My friend’s brother has died without a will.

My friend’s brother has died without a will. She is older and does not have access to the internet so I’m trying to get some info for her. She is in vermont and he was living in washington. She is the only living relative. Is there any way she can resolve this without having to hire a lawyer. She’s on a very low income and as the bank won’t tell me how much money is in the account she’s not sure if she’d be able to pay a lawyer. His bank is not being helpful at all, they just seem to be giving her the run-around.

Asked on June 26, 2009 under Estate Planning, Vermont


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your friend needs to be appointed the personal representative of the estate;  in most states, this is done by getting what are called letters of administration.  It usually requires taking a certified copy of the death certificate to the county courthouse, where the person last lived, filling out some forms and paying a small fee, and it often can be completed in less than an hour.  With the letters of administration, she could go to the bank and get the money paid over to her.  I'm not a Washington attorney, so I can't tell you how exactly the procedure there might vary in the details.

She'll probably have to go there herself if she doesn't want to hire an attorney.

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